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For Actors, Is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire the American Harry Potter?

Hunger Games, Jeffrey Wright Murray Close/Lionsgate; Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Jeffrey Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci: Is the Hunger Games series the American Harry Potter—a place for serious American actors to have fun and get a decent paycheck from a hit movie?
_S. and J., Nevada, via Twitter

Well, let's not draw that conclusion just yet, not when we also have a few incredibly good British actors—Toby Jones, Sam Claflin—waving the flag in the Hunger Games series right next to their Yankee brethren. That said, your science is otherwise sound, young friends. And I have proof.

Catching Fire blazes up, and we've got the details

First, the basics: Yes, the casting for Catching Fire is looking pretty amazeballs. I wasn't a total fan of Woody Harrelson in The Hunger Games, but plenty of other folks disagreed with me, and he is a great actor. He'll be back for Catching Fire, along with, of course, the incomparable Jennifer Lawrence and rising hero Josh Hutcherson. Wright, the Felix Leiter of the last two James Bond films, will step in to play Beetee; Amanda Plummer will be his Wiress; relative newcomer Claflin is channeling Finnick Odair and Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greatest actors alive, in my humble opinion, will play Plutarch Heavensbee.

As for why all this awesomeness will be on a single screen, it's pretty simple: Good actors want to work with great actors. Makes their jobs more fun, as well as potentially more illustrious down the road.

Take Stanley Tucci. He plays Caesar Flickerman in the series, and the mere fact that he does so may have attracted other top talent, casting director Bonnie Gillespie tells me.

"He's one of the most respected names in the business," she says. "There are a lot of people who have him on their wish list as someone they specifically want to work with—respected by his peers, amazing on set, someone you really want to jam with."

Beetee has wired in, but do you think Jeffrey's the Wright choice?

Hoffman also has that appeal for other thesps, Gillespie says.

"You get Philip Seymour Hoffman in your project, and immediately, a higher tier of actors are turning their heads, saying, ‘Hey, I want to take a meeting on that one.' It's like a game of tennis. You want to play with the best."

Hence, perhaps, the addition of Plummer—also known by scuzz film fans as Honey Bunny—and Wright, both of whom signed on after Hoffman.

Of course, the fact that the film is gonna be a blockbuster only helps.

"There's nothing wrong with getting paid well and knowing you're working on a series you can make money off of for years to come," Gillespie points out.

Amen to that.

Catching Fire: Who Will Dominate In the Arena This Time?

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